Next destination: Ratapani – Ht. 10700 ft.(12 km)
Though the YHAI website mentions this trek to be 7km, the information is wrong. The field director at base camp had informed us that it is 12(or 13 km). So after the usual morning activities of handing in the sleeping bags and forming a line, we set off to see what that day had to offer :). Off we went knowing that today’s climb was the longest and the most strenuous and hopes of catching some snow (it would be dirty of course but I got excited all the same, which later got me in trouble that day). The day started as usual – walking, slipping, talking, joking, teasing each other, we went up and down, taking breaks and starting again. We had our usual accompanying scenery, pine trees(I guess), the roaring Parvati river, glimpses of snow capped mountains. Sometimes, I felt that, after a while all mountains start looking the same but that’s not true. Each view is amazing:).
Photo by Keerthi
After the long and treacherous walk, we finally reached the lunch point which had 2 yellow tents propped up. It had just started to rain by the time we reached there and got into one of the over-crowded tents for cover none too soon. We got in and it started raining hard, hitting hailstones all the while. Not having had lunch yet we gulped down hot maggi which those amazing people staying at that point provided. It’s a wonder how they manage to live there in those conditions. It rained our usual hailstones, hard for almost an hour or so. We sat there barely able to move and finally when it stopped raining we came out. It was cold. We were after all nearing 10000ft. At a particular position in the other tent, Naveen had got a single line of network on his mobile. When Nikhi told me about it, I went to give a call to my mom and dad. The last mobile signal I had got was at Kasol base camp. Poor Naveen was sitting in a particular position and he couldn’t move an inch, else he would have lost network. So using his headphones, all of us made the calls while he didn’t move a muscle 🙂. A hot glass of tea later all of us set off again towards Ratapani.
At lunch point after the rain(Photo by Keerthi)
En route, we finally found our 1st small patch of snow at a side. It was dirty and those before us had struck their wooden sticks in it as they passed. I couldn’t help but do the same :). We had been warned about the birds that fly at this height. And we saw eagles(I think) flying at our level or below us. The climb was mostly uphill today and we moved on until we came to a stretch of land. We had to cross this land, climb up on the rocks and climb down to reach the campsite. I am not an animal lover nor do I hate them. By today I too had started liking our dog Pintya :). She was our guide. As we walked across the stretch of land, another shepherd dog came towards us. The guys already loved Pintya (Weird name for a dog I know 😛 ) and they patted this new comer too. As soon as I saw him I patted him too, he was so rich, so beautiful, a shining black dog.
The sheep chase (Pic by Shyam)
To our right about half a km away was a huge triangular patch of snow at the foot of the mountain. This was probably the patch of snow we had seen from Padri camp. I wanted to touch it even though I knew next day we would hit a lot more snow. Nikhi had developed a cough that day due to the cold and it was irritating her like hell. So she waited with Shyam while I ran towards the snow. Near the snow were around 20 sheep grazing the grass. I passed them and reached the snow and trod on it. I touched the snow(it was cold, what else did you expect :P) but it made me happier to touch it :). I took a fistful of snow and threw it up in the air and turned back reluctantly to continue on (I was excited at the prospect of snow, remember my childhood wish?). When I had reached the snow I had seen about 10 sheep grazing above in the mountains. I turned back and started walking towards towards Nikhi and Shyam (who was photographing as always). As I was walking, I heard the “meih meih” of sheep. The sounds increased in volume and I turned and saw more sheep coming out of the mountain and from the plane land and all of them started running towards me. I too started running, as more sheep joined in(I don’t know where they were hidden before this :O) and they were all running towards me :S. I didn’t know what to do, I panicked a bit (what if they all come and surround me and knock me over???) and at the same time I was feeling very funny and so I was laughing as I ran away from them.
Some of my trekking friends who had started climbing had stopped to see me being chased by sheep (I learnt later that they were cheering me on though I didn’t hear it) and Nikhi and Shyam were howling with laughter when I reached them. I was relieved but I was laughing hard too :D. By then a shepherd lady had come and she was taking the sheep back towards the mountains but she did give me dragger looks and gave me a lot of galis in her native tongue which I luckily didn’t understand. From then on, along with being nicknamed Hit List , I also got named as The Sheep Girl. I was probably the 1st person in history to be chased by a 100 sheep :S. I was the villain who had disturbed their snow. Amid laughter and talks we went again and joined Vikas who was climbing up. From here on we had to climb up the steep rocky surface and then get down on other side to reach the camp. Finally on reaching the top we met the camp leader who greeted us(He was super cool and the best camp leader ever 🙂 ).He directed us to go down towards the camp site and by this time, 2 more of our batch mates who were behind us were surrounded by the sheep I had brought :D.
I captured this pic the next morning
We reached the campsite and after throwing our rucksacks in our tents came out to have tea and some snacks. Sandeep had come earlier to have oxygen from the oxygen cylinder :D. As opposed to the customery forming of lines after reaching the campsite to take the count of members, the cool camp leader told us we could sit and relax and have the count there itself. He also gave us the usual tips and told us that that after the long trek that day, next day’s trek to Nagaru would be the shortest one. He warned us to be careful at night because sometimes bears or snow leapords would come. We saw none of these though 🙁 (I was secretly hoping to see one). He also told us that we were supposed to receive paneer pakodas that day but didn’t because the supply had not come (Told you they give too much food to eat). We all sat and saw the awesome sunset. It was ‘possessing beauty; aesthetically pleasing’ (I used a thesaurus to stop using the word beautiful 😀 ). As I said before, any words used to describe it, any pic used to capture it will not do it full justice. You have to be there to see and experience it. We sat there, lost in the beauty of nature and we all did a jump on the mountains (I didn’t reach high as the others 🙁 ).
Soon we had dinner after with the usual talks and jokes and teasing. By now, we recognized people not only by names but also clothes(c’mon what do you expect when people are wearing the same clothes for 3 days 😛 ). And off we went to get zipped in our sleeping bags, at a height of 10700 feet. Wearing thermals was a must in addition to the usual woolen socks, gloves and caps.
Next day was one of the most awaited days (each day was awaited) as we would be reaching the famed Nagaru camp which had snow and about which we had heard some funny yet somewhat alarming stories.
Thats all for now folks 😉
Scribbled by: Swati Saundatti
View Swati’s blog “A Star Scribbles” here